Ignoring the carbon deficit

Here’s another message I have sent to the Today programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4. For readers unfamiliar with the programme, it is the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme. But the substance of this message is an all-too-frequent problem with their coverage.

Unlike my last complaint, I just sent this one in as feedback. I didn’t feel it merited a formal complaint. If I get a reply I will post it below, as before.

Regarding the item on npower’s report on energy prices, I was disappointed that the questioning seemed to ignore or underplay the urgency of decarbonising our energy supply.

You rarely question the assumption that we must close the fiscal deficit, which is an economic construct and a subject much debated by economists. Yet you are happy to entertain the idea of ignoring our carbon deficit, which is a scientific fact beyond debate with 97% of scientific papers agreeing on it.

Just as you challenge Labour politicians to explain how they would balance the fiscal books, you should be challenging Conservative politicians and energy companies to explain how their policies will reduce carbon emissions in line with the requirements of the Climate Change Act.

Why isn’t the Green Deal delivering the energy demand reductions we need to meet climate change targets and offset bill rises? Why do we still have such poorly insulated homes? What is the cost to business of inefficient buildings? What is npower doing to drive down the costs of new energy infrastructure?

Instead, the questioning led on whether we should drop low carbon policies.

Just imagine if you led with Osborne on whether he should ignore the fiscal deficit, instead of debating how best to close it – growth or cuts!

Fingers crossed!

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Getting enthusiasts into OpenStreetMap

I started writing this as an email to Richard Fairhurst, but then thought I’d post it to my blog. I wrote something on a similar theme just over a year ago.

Richard,

I just wanted to say that I thought your talk at the SOTMUS conference was spot on.

But when you talk about the cycling community, I think there’s an important caveat missing. Lots of people in our mapping community (or lots of the 5% who do 95% of the mapping) are enthusiastic cyclists, but few in the enthusiastic cyclist community are mappers.

I’ve not come across the London Cycling Campaign or any of the borough groups really getting involved with cycle mapping. Some members (myself included) do, but my impression is that most don’t. Despite embedding CycleStreets on their homepage and collaborating on a cycle parking campaign with them, I’ve never come across a big concerted push from LCC and local borough groups to contribute to OpenStreetMap beyond the odd mention in their magazine [edit: and a two-page spread]. The same was true of Andy’s great DfT data project. To this day, coverage of cycling infrastructure in London is patchy (although far better than any online alternative).

The same goes for lots of enthusiast communities. You’re right that a lot of people map the thing they’re enthusiastic about. But not many communities organised around those enthusiasms get mapping.

I’ve tried, here and there, to talk enthusiastic people round to OSM. I’ve talked to community campaigners I know involved with cycling, walking, food growing, trees, transition towns, vegetarianism, housing and school catchment areas. All benefit from mapping; some do it themselves with varying degrees of proficiency, usually with pen and paper, Powerpoint slides or Google Maps. But the technical hurdles of using OpenStreetMap (and in some cases simply the effort of mapping) often seem to outweigh the benefits they’d really get from the results.

After a chat over some tea or beer I have to send interested people half a dozen links to different web sites that provide the editor, the not-very-usable tutorials, the place to find tags that aren’t presets, the way to go about inventing new tags if necessary, the custom renders (often a mix of ITO and other third party sites), the way to see recent changes in your area that is actually usable, the quality controls to check your work, the places to ask for help, the other people doing similar work in London and how to discuss it with them, the inspirational examples, and so on. The diversity of web sites and tools is a strength of OpenStreetMap, but it’s also terribly confusing and it can be hard to discover the tool you’re after. Often there simply aren’t tools there to do what they want, and they don’t have the skills to roll their own nor the money to pay someone to make them.

It’s too confusing and complicated. Usually the payback isn’t enough, so they don’t even start, or give up shortly after their first dabble with an editor.

So… your idea of a community page is excellent. It could help to create a central focus for people with the same enthusiasms, saving me the effort of compiling all those links and making everything seem terribly disjointed. It will take a few bricks out of the wall holding communities back from contributing to OpenStreetMap.

Here’s my extension to your idea that seems technically within our grasp since Potlatch 2/iD and the Overpass tool. Make it really simple (a few clicks in a web-based tool) to set-up a hub for your niche interest: a community page bringing everything together, a custom editor with the appropriate presets, a nice map showing the results, data extracts (kml, json, shp), and code snippets to display the results on your own web site. You like Welsh chapels? Spend half an hour on this web form and bob’s your uncle.

As another hapless arts graduate with big time commitments to the Green Party, I don’t have the skills or time for this. I’m left cobbling together halfway-decent sites like OpenEcoMaps to try and fill a niche. It would be wonderful if the more technically gifted folk could make this a priority to turn more enthusiasts into the 5%.

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My complaint to the BBC

The BBC broadcast a report today by Roger Harrabin entitled “has global warming stalled?“. You can follow the link to listen to the piece. I don’t often submit formal complaints, but I think the framing of the issue is so important that I submitted the following to the BBC complaints department.

I have two specific complaints in relation to your Today programme piece on climate science broadcast on the 17th May. The first is that the report used misleading language about recent developments in the science. My second complaint is that the report gave undue attention to a marginal opinion. Roger Harrabin’s report contained some interesting interviews, but the presentation was entirely misleading.

On my first, I believe it is misleading to suggest that the scientific establishment agrees that “global warming appears to have stalled” as he did in the opening segment.

The media, including Radio 4, covered a Met Office announcement in January by suggesting it showed global warming had stopped. The report was so misleading that the Met Office had to issue a statement.

The short-term fluctuations in the background temperature trend are well known, though as your report pointed out they are not yet fully understand. Carbon Brief produced a very useful summary of these issues back in January.

There are some scientists who have an optimistic view of future warming, believing it could still remain at 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. There are others who believe we are heading towards at least 4 degrees of warming. This uncertainty has been a feature of the scientific debate ever since the IPCC was set-up.

If Roger Harrabin is able to point to evidence of a growing consensus among scientists that global warming has stalled, I would be very interested to read it!

Second, in the BBC Trust’s 2010 review of impartiality and accuracy in scientific reporting, Professor Steve Jones made clear that the BBC was at times applying an “over-rigid” application of the editorial guidelines on impartiality, and giving “undue attention to marginal opinion”. The guidelines were revised around the same time to ensure that the BBC gives “due weight” in relation to impartiality.

A recent study found that 97% out of nearly 12,000 scientific papers agreed with the consensus position of anthropogenic global warming. This reinforced several other studies conducted in the past decade, which found a similar level of agreement.

So I believe that in this item you have given undue attention to an exceptionally marginal opinion of a poorly qualified blogger.

A more balanced and credible piece would have interviewed several scientists and climate policy experts about the implications of tipping over 400 ppm CO2, with a note of caution that, as in all complicated areas, nobody can be quite certain where in the range we will end up.

I won’t hold my breath. Carbon Brief have produced a much more sympathetic write-up of the piece on their blog. I agree that most of the segment was interesting and quite clear, but Harrabin’s opening suggestion – that scientists are now agreeing with sceptics that global warming has stalled – was a grievous misrepresentation.

Update – their response

I received the following response from the BBC:

Thanks for your contact regarding ‘Today’ broadcast on 17 May on BBC Radio 4.

I understand that you felt an item on the above edition of the programme was biased in favour of climate sceptics.

Whilst I appreciate your concerns, it’s firstly worth noting that Roger Harrabin’s report was simply one of many in relation to this topic. In addressing any wide ranging issue such as this, balance cannot be judged simply on the basis of individual reports, and consideration must be given to our overall reporting.

Indeed, the issue of climate change has been covered on numerous recent occasions by the BBC, for example:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22630912

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22567023

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22463480

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22177221

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22484907

Please be assured that we are committed to impartial coverage when it comes to this issue. That said, we don’t ignore the fact that there is broad scientific agreement on the issue of climate change and we reflect this accordingly; however, we do aim to ensure that we also offer time to the dissenting voices.

Nevertheless, please be assured that I’ve registered your comments regarding this issue to our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback made available throughout the BBC, including to programme producers, as well as members of senior management.

The audience logs help to shape future decisions regarding BBC programming and output.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

I’m not really satisfied with the BBC basically saying “I’m not going to respond to your complaint about that specific programme because, look, we have all this other coverage too”. I’ll give a reply some thought… any suggestions gratefully received.

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My politics of ecology and justice

Following my previous blog post about the Young Greens and lots of discussion with friends and fellow party members, I want to set out clearly why ecology defines my philosophical basis rather than social and environmental justice.

To avoid misunderstandings from the outset, I think social and environmental justice are important, but they don’t define my political philosophy.

The new philosophical basis of the Green Party says:

A system based on inequality and exploitation is threatening the future of the planet on which we depend, and encouraging reckless and environmentally damaging consumerism…. The Green Party is a party of social and environmental justice, which supports a radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole.

This sounds great! What could be wrong with that? I hope I might persuade you why I don’t think it is quite right, or at least encourage more thought and debate about political philosophy and the precise meaning of different terms. Continue reading

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Who built all that housing in England?

A couple of years ago I included a chart of house building in a blog post arguing that young people shouldn’t necessarily support the removal of planning controls. The chart covered the period from 1955 to 2010, and showed that:

The only time  that the UK has seen house building match demand, and kept housing affordable, was when councils built in huge volumes from the 1950s to 1970s. If you think price bubbles are all about supply, explain the continued volatility of house prices through the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

People who want to see a massive expansion in house building can have their spirits dampened in other ways. Christopher Buckle from Savills wrote an interesting blog post suggesting that, on that house building data from the 1950s to the present day, a major boom looks very unlikely. He wrote:

If private sector housing delivery grew by 7.5% every year until 2017, a period of 7 years unbroken expansion from 2010, output would reach 133,000 new homes per year.  This would still be 10,000 new homes per year short of the average level of delivery seen over the 50 years prior to the credit crunch.  Such a sustained period of expansion has not been seen since the 1950s.

But the charts used by me and Buckle didn’t cover the 1930s, a time when private builders erected more than two million homes, almost twice as many as they managed in the 2000s and when the population was much larger.

Back to the 1930s

Those who think we need to tear up the planning system to solve our housing crisis often refer to the 1930s as a golden age. So I’ve produced a chart that goes all the way back to 1923 for homes built in England:

Who built all that housing?

I have had to combine two slightly different data sources for this. The period from 1923-1945 comes from  BR Mitchell’s Abstract of British Historical Statistics (which start in 1923), and the period from 1946-2011 from official government statistics (table 244) which also includes figures for housing associations. This is a bit naughty, but it’s the best I can do.

This shows that there was indeed an explosion of private sector house building in the 1930s, jumping from 144,505 homes in 1932 to 210,782 in the following year.

The role that councils played

But it also shows that councils were still a big force, a point made more clearly by this chart showing the proportion of the total homes built by housing associations, councils and private builders:

housing-supply-1923-2011-proportions

During the 1930s, councils still built a quarter of the homes. That rose to a whopping 73% in the 1940s (not surprising given there was a war on), 64% in the 1950s, and around 40% in the 1960s-70s. In 1997, the year Labour came back into office councils only built 0.2% of homes. Housing associations to some extent stepped into their shoes, but in the 1990s and 2000s they only built 14% of the homes.

Based on this data, and a lot of other reasons, I think there are three arguments for councils building more homes if we are to contain housing costs:

  1. These homes will be affordable to the tenants from day one, and in perpetuity, whatever happens in the market.
  2. In the twentieth century, the only periods during which we built enough homes saw a very significant role for council homes.
  3. Councils building more will expand the construction industry so introducing greater economies of scale and potentially improving skills.

A final note of caution

However, I wouldn’t want to say this is an open and shut case, nor deny I have other reasons for supporting council housing.

It is too easy to draw very simplistic conclusions, and to then make a tenuous connection in order to propose quite radical policies. This is what I think is happening with the romanticism about the 1930s suburbs.

There is a similarity between this debate and that of rent controls, in which we often make comparisons between the UK rented sector and Germany’s. It’s interesting that Germany has a very successful and highly regulated rental sector, and relevant given that Conservative, Labour and coalition governments since the 1980s have opposed those sorts of regulations. But there are many other differences between the countries. Similarly, there are many differences between the UK today and in the 1930s.

Can we have a major private housebuilding boom, as we had in the 1930s, regardless of Buckle from Savill’s gloom about the period from the 1950s to the present day? Brian Green wrote a good blog post in 2011 arguing that a 1930s housing boom seems unlikely. He wrote:

I sense a new romantic surge of interest in the notion of a private-sector-led house-building boom driving economic recovery. But… there were huge differences…

I’d recommend reading his post for his full list of reasons, I won’t quote them at length here. The gist is that in the 1930s you had a large number of new potential home buyers, plentiful cheap credit, low land costs, little demand from landlords and investors and a housing market that was very affordable. His conclusion:

It would seem that if we want a new house-building boom we will need a far more ingenious and powerful set of market prompts than promoting a greater availability of higher loan-to-value mortgages, freeing up planning and continuing to supply mortgages at low interest rates.

You can draw your own conclusions from the data I have presented, and the links to the articles by Buckle and Green.

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Follow-up to my provocation

My article on what I perceive to be a shift away from deep ecology towards shallow ecology certainly provoked lots of debate, which I supposed was my intention. In this post I want to follow up by correcting an error I made, expressing regret about one or two things, and making an observation about open debate in the internet age.

Correcting errors

I was under the impression that the motion to change the philosophical basis was driven forward, and largely voted through, by newer members of the party, in particular people active in the organisation Young Greens. I described it as “their scalp”, and said it “came about in part through the emergence of something of a ‘bloc’ of Young Greens”.

I should point out that Josiah Mortimer, who proposed the motion, has himself described it as “Young Green-led”, and there were tweets such as this one from York Young Greens describing it in similar terms.

However, Benali Hamdache posted a comment making clear that I was ascribing too much responsibility to the Young Greens:

I chaired the workshop debating the policy. In that there were a number of young greens who opposed the policy, and a number of non young greens who spoke passionately for the motion. The workshop was 26-2 for the motion. In plenary the motion passed with substantial non-YG support. YGs represented a quarter of attendees and not all supported, indeed some did speak against in plenary. 74 attendees were YG, yet the motion received I believe a substantial amount more votes. All considered I think it unwise to put the vote as solely YG factionalism.

So thank you, Benali, for the correction. I’m sorry, and apologise for, the error.

Expressing regret

I also regret conflating what are perhaps three separate issues:

  1. The motion itself, shifting the party out of the deep ecology movement towards a form of shallow ecology in which social justice is seen as a prerequisite for, and central to, environmental justice
  2. The recent public policy positions of the Young Greens organisation that I was aware of, which had no substantial references to environmental issues
  3. Statements like those by Adam Ramsay where I feel there is a degree of factionalism that is aligned against “old ways” and in favour of a kind of old Labour or hard left approach

Had I written something three times as long, I could have separated these out and taken more care to make my point. But I doubt many people would have taken the time to read that. Indeed, many failed to take the time to really read and reflect on the article I did write.

That said, it’s also all too easy, when drafting an article on your laptop over a few evenings, to miss the emotional impact of some sentences or even the overall piece. I knew full well that I would annoy some people, and get lots of people disputing parts of my argument, but I didn’t anticipate that some people would be quite so upset by it!

Several people have accused me of attacking all Young Greens for not caring about the environment. I never made this claim in my original article. My opening paragraph stated ” I think there is a lack of environmentalism (or perhaps even a current of anti-environment thought) within the Young Greens”, and in fact I closed my article stating that “I would like to think there are fellow Greens aged 30 and under who still think that ecology is a central concern”. There is a clear difference between the the interpretation I have been accused of and what I actually wrote.

But I could have made clearer, at the outset, that I know many Young Greens do care passionately about the environment, and that many who subscribe to what Arne Naess called the “shallow ecology movement” do care passionately about the environment. Indeed it was Young Greens who brought an emergency motion in support of the No Dash for Gas activists.

Open debate in the internet age

In among many polite, considered responses in person, by email and on Twitter, I have been subject to a heady mix of outrage and feverish condemnation on Twitter.

I have been told that my article was “deeply offensive”, “upsetting”, “bizarre and insulting”, and that they were “seriously worried by the attitude expressed”. I was accused of misrepresenting individuals’ views, even though I never mentioned them by name. One person told me, “I demand an apology”. Arguments levelled have been full of straw men, equivocation, false dichotomies and cherry picking.

I can take criticism, I don’t mind being called names, but I find this all a bit much. We have all posted a comment in anger, and sent aggressive tweets as kneejerk reactions. I’ve done this myself too often. But I wanted to call it on this occasion.

I have responded to comments that I felt were generally polite, and will ignore others.

Young Greens for the environment

I joked a couple of days ago that I should set-up a Young Greens for the Environment grouping in the Green Party. I wasn’t being facetious, because I think there is a lack of environmentalism (or perhaps even a current of anti-environment thought) within the Young Greens (the organisation, distinct from the many Greens who are under 30).

By all reports, Young Greens were out in force at this weekend’s party conference, along with older members who have joined in recent years in search of a left-of-Labour party with realistic electoral prospects. Their scalp was a change to the party’s philosophical basis, removing clauses like this:

Life on Earth is under immense pressure. It is human activity, more than anything else, which is threatening the well-being of the environment on which we depend. Conventional politics has failed us because its values are fundamentally flawed.

And replacing them with clauses like this:

A system based on inequality and exploitation is threatening the future of the planet on which we depend, and encouraging reckless and environmentally damaging consumerism.

Leaving side various quibbles, the new clauses contain sentiments I broadly agree with. Green politics has, for a long time, had four basic principles: ecology, social justice, peace and democracy, all equally important goals.

What’s interesting is that the preamble to this policy motion went further than saying social justice is as important as ecology. It sought to “make social justice central“, asking that we “put our struggle for equality and democratic control of resources at the centre” of our politics (my emphasis).

Keeping the environment central

I am dismayed by this change.

I joined the Green Party because I think the environmental crises we are creating are the single biggest political problem we face. I want to distinguish between goals – the world we want to see – and struggles – the issues or problems we need to tackle. I think social justice, peace and democracy are equally important goals, but the raison d’être of the Green Party is surely that no other political party in England and Wales takes the struggle for the environment seriously?

If we don’t fix our environmental problems, the other concerns might as well not matter. Social justice issues like welfare reform will pale into insignificance as runaway climate change, the exhaustion of oceans and soils, the disruption of the nitrogen cycle and other growing crises all take their toll. Unlike most social justice issues, environmental crises are stuck in feedback loops that mean late or timid action fatally undermines our ability to tackle them later on; you can always build more homes in 2015 to make good on a few years of inaction, but we can’t, yet, take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere at a scale that could undo the damage of past years.

It is possible to conceive of an environmentally sound society that is socially unjust (such as many poor countries today) and of socially just societies that are environmentally unsound (such as many Latin American lefty countries, though they are of course undermining the foundations of their future prosperity). We are in politics to bring about a society that is environmentally sound, socially just, democratic and peaceful. But of all the struggles we face to achieve those goals, we must, I believe, give the environmental problems the highest priority because we live in a country in which they are the most severely neglected, and in which they pose by far the greatest threat.

One slogan I use with confidence is, “if there isn’t a Green in the room it won’t get discussed”. On occasion this is true of pay inequality, co-operative housing and alternatives to military intervention. But it is most often, and most starkly, true of environmental issues. We can and should work across a broad range of topics, but if we fail to work on environmental topics as a central concern then nobody will work on them in a serious way.

I also feel slightly queasy at the implication that the party is moving away from a deep green, ecological philosophy. The pale Green approach asks us to fix problems like pollution and resource depletion in order to build a socially just, peaceful and democratic society; the environment is important insofar as it underpins those things we really value. The deep Green approach asks that we adopt a wholly different framework, an ecological framework that sees humanity as part of nature and all of nature as inherently valuable. We struggle against pollution and resource depletion and other problems in order to realise a world with greater ecological well-being. Our understanding of social justice, democracy and peace flows from our ecological philosophy, which is central and formative. You can read more about this “ecological philosophy” here.

When we discuss policies that can be pursued by Green councillors, people without the power to overturn the basic values of the UK political system, we must be more pragmatic. For example, I don’t think it’s right to fight against housing development in regions of the UK that have severe shortages, on the grounds that we might – if in national government – begin to rebalance the UK’s economy to other regions with more empty homes and less housing stress (something I wrote about here).

But when we discuss our philosophical basis, we needn’t make this compromise.

To my mind, this new philosophical basis throws that out, and makes us a left wing party concerned with humankind that is fixing environmental problems for humankind’s benefit.

The Young Green element, or bloc

The motion vote came about in part through the emergence of something of a ‘bloc’ of Young Greens, self-identified as more left-wing, less hippyish and less deep Green than previous generations.

This first really came to my attention in a Guardian interview with Adam Ramsay[update: I should point out Adam isn't an officer or spokesperson for the Young Greens, I mention him as a prominent 'young' Green who talks up this idea of a new approach among younger members] Here is the full quote:

There are, he explains, three elements within British green politics: the kind of veteran “ecologist liberals” represented by the Greens’ London mayoral candidate Jenny Jones; more left-leaning people who joined the party towards the end of the 1980s, like their current leader Caroline Lucas; and Ramsay’s own lot: what he calls “the Iraq war generation, which blurs into the cuts generation: people who are students now”. The middle group, he says, tends to side with his faction, and the result is an increasing emphasis on such issues as inequality and the public/private balance, as well as the Green staples of sustainability and climate change. “There’s more of us now, so we win,” he says. “And in terms of ideas and energy – we run the party.”

I know Adam from our shared time as activists in People & Planet, a fantastic student campaigning organisation he now works for. I admire Adam’s energy for direct action politics, and respect his tireless work to further Green politics. Back in the day, when I was on People & Planet’s Management Committee (a kind of democratic board) we were both pushing for the organisation to campaign on workers’ rights and to take a harder, more political stance following years of slightly fuzzy trade justice work. But his interview made me think we have subsequently departed for different planets.

My first bone to pick was his description of Jenny Jones as an “ecologist liberal”, and by implication not a lefty who would pursue issues like inequality and privatisation. That is rubbish, but not a tangent I have space for here.

My second bone was the idea that there are delimited “elements” in the party. What made it even worse was that Adam was apparently suggesting some elements have taken control of the party!

I’m not in any element or faction, thank you. I’m a Green, I follow my values and the evidence to support any proposal that I think is right. Talk of factions encourages people to switch off their brains and vote en bloc, and even to start imagining that there are other factions they should oppose or undermine. This divisive attitude put me off Green Left, despite feeling I was on the left of the party when it launched.

At conferences I have voted to remove unscientific nonsense about homeopathy that was a relic of a new age form of deep Green thinking, and I have voted to strengthen private tenants’ rights in the face of concerns from older home-owning and landlord members, but I don’t identify with young or old exclusively. I would have voted against this motion.

The emergence of the pale Green bloc

Back to Adam’s quote.

Like him, I came to the Green Party following nine years of Labour’s work to wage foreign wars, privatise public services and maintain the global trade agreements that kept corporations in the business of exploiting people and planet. I came to the Greens out of admiration for our Living Wage policy, but also for our deep commitment to ecology and the recognition that pitting the environment against the economy or society is always a false choice, always an ignorance of environmental science and economics, always a mistake, and deeply out of kilter with my philosophy. I joined following years campaigning on climate change, trade justice and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and my early years coincided with the buildup to the Copenhagen conference, during which climate change was unambiguously one of the biggest campaigning issues of the day.

I can see that people five or ten years younger than me have had a different track record. I first noticed this when drawing up our manifesto for the London Mayoral and Assembly elections in May 2012. I had extended various invitations to the London Young Greens committee to meet and discuss what they would like to see, to host workshops with new young  members, and to consider whether we should write a youth section into the manifesto. My offer wasn’t taken up, and in good time I received a polished Young Green manifesto to consider. The document had lots of good ideas, but there was nothing – and I mean, nothing – about the environment. From the Young Greens!

I was pretty astonished, until I reflected on the main issues on campuses in the preceding years – student fees, cuts, anti-austerity, pay inequality. Like weather vanes, the Young Green committee in London had followed the political winds and dropped any interest in the single biggest intergenerational injustice we have to deal with – climate change – let alone other environmental issues affecting young people or the pressures on London’s environment.

This has been repeated with the national Young Green’s innovation of  their own policy platforms. The first two concern housing and economic democracy (see Google cache while their site is down). These contain lots of  great ideas, but again the environment is almost entirely absent. The one mention of environmental issues in in relation to housing and energy use, left as a single pale Green consideration, far from the deep Green heritage of the party.

Do we need Young Greens for the Environment?

I don’t really want to propose setting up another faction, a group-within-a-group. That would only add to the problems we face.

I’d prefer to believe that we are really all on the same page, and that we can find ways to bring ecology back to the fore in the coming years.

I would like to think there are fellow Greens aged 30 and under who still think that ecology is a central concern; who think that it is, of all our core values, the one we most urgently need to struggle for given that it is the only one comprehensively ignored by the other four national parties; and who are also concerned at these signs that their peers seem to be downgrading ecology, either deliberately or by omission. Fellow Greens who recognise the need at times to present ecology in terms of social justice, and to give social justice and democracy greater prominence in our day to day work, but who still feel that ecology is paramount.

Join me! Or tell me what I’m missing…

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